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Training techniques that will help you get results.

A sport that was once confined to bulky bodybuilders, weight-lifting is now being embraced by the average guy looking to drop a few pounds and beef up his physique as well as the average gal looking to tone up and strengthen bones and muscles as she heads into middle age.

Cedric Bryant, vice president of scientific affairs for the American Council on Exercise (ACE) says, "Weight lifting not only helps you look better. It can play an enormous role in your quality of life as you age -- particularly for women. It definitely helps increase bone density, which diminishes with age."

And unlike other forms of exercise that burn calories only while you're working out, weight lifting keeps on incinerating calories for hours after you stop.

"It increases your metabolic activity for the entire day," says Alex Schroeder, an exercise physiologist and trainer at Form and Fitness, a Milwaukee, Wis., gym and rehabilitation center. Your metabolism increases "not only when you are challenging your muscles but also during the repair process that occurs when you stop working out."

To help put you on the path to success, here are some expert tips on how to start a weight lifting workout and stick with it until you reach your goals.

Rule No. 1: Define Your Goals

For any exercise program, it's important to start with a realistic goal in mind. But for weight training, it's essential.

"Setting a goal that’s attainable is important to not only give you a sense that you are accomplishing something,' Schroeder says, but, in the case of weight lifting, to insure that you don't overdo it when you first begin."

Because successful weight training involves small steps, having short-term goals will keep you from giving up too soon, he says.

Mike Ryan, a weight expert from the Gold's Gym Fitness Institute, agrees. "It's extremely important to set realistic, achievable goals so that you don’t get discouraged and so that you don't try to do too much too soon," he says. Doing too much too soon will only "increase your risk of injury."

What's more, Ryan cautions that this advice is as important for seasoned athletes as it is for fitness newbies.

"No matter how much you've accomplished in another sport," Ryan says, "if you haven't done weight lifting, you're still a beginner. So don't expect too much too soon."

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